• Kristin Perissinotto

Next time your conservative uncle says he votes 'for the economy,' tell him this...

Everyone should be interested in and understand the basics of the economy. The economy has a very specific 'brand' and markets exclusively to the sensible old white boomers because it's not very exciting and it's very exclusionary. But even if it's just to argue with your conservative, old colleagues, it's worth learning the basics. And here's why...

This is headlining news from the week:

The main pull to vote for the Liberal Party or LNP is the economy. They've developed a brand of being good for business and good for the economy. Whether that's accurate or not is a different story. But if you're anything like me, when people start prattling on about the ~economy~ you tune out or call it a lost cause. But the recent comments from Treasurer Josh Frydenberg say a lot, and, if examined, paint a picture on why not to vote for a conservative government.

The federal government has reported the biggest deficit recorded in Australian history - this basically means the country is in a lot of debt, and has done a lot of spending this financial year. Which is of course due to COVID. This same government won the 2019 election with one sole promise to Australians: a budget surplus. They haven't delivered it. But how could they have in a worldwide pandemic? So it's hard to critique. But...

The comments from the Treasurer stating that the government is open to tax cuts and later saying that 'tax cuts are in the DNA' of the Liberal Party (I can think of something else that's in their DNA but this is not the place), doesn't make sense. The Libs' tax cuts either exclusively or predominately benefit high income earners. Scott Morrison announced a tax break plan earlier this year where the most significant benefactors were those earning between $180 000 and $200 000, which is around 2% of Australians.

Now nothing in this world is fair, particularly for the working class, but a tax system should be set up to ensure people pay what they can afford. We're all brought up to hate paying tax - most people will probably have heard something to the tune of it being the government 'stealing' our hard-earned money. But we aren't properly educated about tax in school - it's actually a great system. Our taxes pay for infrastructure, for roads, public hospitals and schools, Medicare, public transport, community programs, and all of our publicly owned assets.

High income earners should, according to the system, be paying the most tax. But very often they are not. They have access to professionals who can significantly reduce their taxable income with all kinds of sneaky tricks. Lower income earners don't have the disposable income to do this, and it often results in millionaires paying less income than the working class and even casual weekend workers, and no I am NOT exaggerating. Peter Martin (The Conversation) reported that 45 Aussies with incomes higher than $1 million shrunk their on-paper income to beneath the tax-free threshold, meaning they paid $0 in tax - less than someone on a genuine income of, say, $20 000.

People making over $1 million annually should be paying tax, and contributing to the ~economy~ that they fucking love so much. It's truly despicable that systems are in place for them to legally avoid contributing. And it's just as despicable that the conservative governments are giving away tax breaks to the upper class as freely as Annastacia Palaszczuk is giving away COVID vaccines.

The Liberals talk in excess about delivering a budget surplus for Australia and get away with it, knowing most Australians don't truly understand what it means. A national budget isn't like a personal or household budget. Extra money in the bank for a regular Jo is great - it might mean we're a bit closer to a savings goal or can get ourselves a little treat. But leftover cash in a federal budget is meaningless - the government is there to spend. Our taxes are there to be spent. Spent back on us - the community. Providing us resources that we need, want, or can benefit from.

And the reality is, the Liberals have tricked us about something else too: the aforementioned tax breaks. Again, only the smallest percentage of citizens actually earn enough money to benefit from genuine and substantial tax cuts - a much larger portion of the country is voting for them. And let me tell you why: ASPIRATIONS. We're all sold the capitalist dream... If we work hard WE could be that person earning a million dollars a year. We just need to work hard. But that's statistically impossible. Only very few 'make it' there, and most can thank familial wealth. We can't all be rich and powerful - the system needs the working class to work FOR the rich and powerful. So in summary, yes. You've been sold a fucking scam, and the only people benefitting from it is the Liberal government and the filthy rich.